By Earl Robertson
David wrote, “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psa. 18:30). This statement points to the perfect characteristics of the God historically revealed. Past history had fully manifested God and His ways with men; they knew His ways to be faultless and blameless. God had taught and made promises to those people and had kept His word. They knew “His word is not slaggy ore, but purified solid gold,” as Delitzch stated it. Later David wrote, “Thy word is true from the beginning” and promised, “I will not forget thy word,” saying he had hidden it in his heart that he might not sin against the Lord (Psa. 119:160, 16, 11). The claims for the accomplishment of right for and within a man are numerously ascribed to the word of God.
The word of God, as spoken through His Son (Heb. 1:1) is His power to enlighten and save sinners (Eph. 1:17, 18; Col. 1:13; Rom. 1:16, 17). Christians develop by this word (1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32) and are kept by it (1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 24). This word cannot be invalidated, but endureth forever (John 10:35; 1 Pet. 1:25). The apostles, like the prophets, were divinely commissioned to preach it (Mk. 16:15, 16). Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” and only the word (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:2). Peter, likewise, admonished, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). Even the doing of man must be circumscribed by the word of God (Col. 3:17). How careful the Lord has been in faithfully getting His word to us (John 17:8; 1 Pet. 1:12; Acts 2:1-4). As it stands written it is creditable and can be accepted as the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
Modernists do not accept the word as the absolute standard of right and wrong; they do not appreciate the fact that when one either receives or rejects the spoken word of God, he receives or rejects God (Matt. 10:16-40)! The apostles were God-sent and spoke His words (John 3:34). Our Bible is this written word! It is not a “paper-pope” as some would call it; neither is it a “fictitious and historically unsound blueprint” to completely furnish man with all essentials for godliness (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). They allege “biblicistic absolutisms” give raise to heresy!
The claim parroted today that making the Bible our absolute guide in all morals and spiritual actions is legalism is nothing short of moderism and unbelief. It is a rejection of the word of God. History reveals to us the frightful pathway, beleagured on every hand, by our own brethren who turned away from the counsel of God and led the church of Christ into one apostasy after another. Some of the very preachers who took the lead in turning the church away from the truth in worship did, within twenty years, deny the verbal inspiration of the Bible! They were looking for freedom! However, the “strait-jacket” of God’s truth restrained them; so, to obtain what they desired, they had to deny that the Bible was actually the word of God. L. L. Pinkerton of Midway, Kentucky in the introduction of the mechanical instrument in 1859 and his rejection of inspiration in 1869 is a good example of what we are talking about.
This reminds me of recent incidents in “The Old Jerusalem” – Nashville, Tennessee. You see the Old Belmont church in that city has recently adopted the instrument. Writers in the Gospel Advocate sorely lament this fact. But, we ask: Why should they? For years that church was full of teachers from Lipscomb College. The policies and actions charted and pursued by that school, and endorsed by the Advocate continuously, influenced and conditioned Belmont for its present action! Let the present objectors of her action demur and deny this charge if they wish, but the future will corroborate my statement. The liberal brethren who think and say they have “never changed” doctrinally are now only beginning to see sorrow. Their days of sore lamentation are just beginning to come. Church after church will follow Belmont! When brethren started taking liberal positions toward the word of God nearly two generations ago that generation allowed such preaching, but did not practice it; however, the children of that generation are now here and they both believe and will practice the preaching that came not from God’s sacred oracles. Furthermore, there is not one thing the liberal preachers who lament Belmont’s actions can do to stop this movement. They have nothing consistent with their teaching to do so.
As the editor of the Advocate recently wrote lamenting pulpit policies: “But when the pulpit goes (giving an uncertain ring), can the congregation be far behind?” Preaching is serious business and the church that does not realize this fact is doomed to sterilization and death or apostasy and death. The present harvest is sufficient proof to any thinking person that Bible preaching has not characterized many of the churches. Yet, the church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” How was it possible for the Belmont church to vote (majority rule in the eldership – eight to three) the instrument in if the word had been fully preached in her pulpit? Any Bible believing person knows that a soft, compromising approach had to characterize that pulpit for years to accomplish this apostasy. Furthermore, while this softness and failure to “reprove and rebuke” characterized the pulpit it permeated and saturated the pew. This is history repeating itself. Shades of the 1850’s and 1860’s!
Belmont’s Bulletin recently revealed their endorsement of and participation in the Billy Graham campaign, saying: “Begin to mark your calendar. Many of you will want to be a part of the Graham crusade at Vanderbilt Stadium… If you would be interested in a Leaders Training Course to help in follow-up, please call and leave your names with the church office, or with the crusade office …. May the Lord bless the effort with strength.” Now, why would the Belmont church endorse and participate in the actions of all the denominational churches involved in this crusade? They have not been taught “sound doctrine” and neither have they heard the errors of sectism denounced from the pulpit. “Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now” (Jer. 17:15).
But, that is not all! Their bulletin again states: “You see, we must be ready to adapt to whatever new instruction the Lord gives, even if it appears to conflict with where he had us walk in the past.” So, they declare the Lord is giving them “new instruction.” This “new” revelation might “appear to conflict” with what God has spoken, but the preaching of the modernist conditions the people to “be ready to adapt to whatever” change in doctrine they might preach! Watch other churches with soft preaching and human philosophy follow.
It is obvious from the stated convictions of many that they do not believe God has already revealed to man all that He will say. They expect God to say something further to them because they want something different than what they already have from Him. The whole problem is men are dissatisfied with what God has spoken. Men with “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:1-4) will sacrifice day and night, compass land and sea, lower their standards for something “new” from the Lord. But, the truth of the matter is, the Lord is not going to say any thing additionally to what He has already spoken to the human family. It is only when men “turn away their ears from the truth” that they turn to fables. Jude wrote, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The adverb “once delivered” is aorist in tense. It means the faith of Christ (the gospel) is once for all times delivered.” This tense emphasizes the past action stated in “once delivered.” The same term is used of Jesus’ sacrificial death: “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself …. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. . .” (Heb. 9:26, 28a). Peter stated it this way, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). How many times did Jesus die? How many times did He have to die to put away sin? Is His death for sin good for all men for all time? Is the power of His death sufficient for all men for all time? To answer these questions is to answer whether or not God has for all times spoken to all men.
Let us be glad that we have God’s complete revelation to man and that we have opportunity to both study it and teach it to others. His message will not change – in spite of the denominational Conferences, Synods, Councils. Let us “preach the word” be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” until Jesus comes (2 Tim. 4:2).
Guardian of Truth XXV: 2, pp. 21-22
January 8, 1981